A workers’ compensation settlement, or workers’ comp, is a type of agreement set in place for when a workplace injury occurs. Any employer with more than one person working for them must have workers’ compensation insurance in preparation for these injuries. When the injured party files a claim, they must come to an agreement for a settlement amount. Every given amount depends on the type of case, and no two are alike. In this post, we’ll talk about the specific case of a workers’ comp settlement for herniated disc.
If you think you deserve a workers’ comp settlement for herniated disc, you need legal guidance. The California attorneys at Jones Legal, Inc. are here to help. We want to make sure you’re properly compensated for your injuries. We’ll answer your questions about herniated discs and what you can expect in a workers’ comp settlement for them.
What Is A Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc pertains to an injury that occurs along the vertebrae in your spine. It is when a part of the nucleus (jellylike center) of the disc gets pushed into the harder exterior. This exterior is what’s called the annulus. A tear in the annulus can lead to the nucleus slipping outward and into the spinal canal.
The disc can irritate the nerves surrounding the spine wherever the herniation occurs. This can then lead to numbness or tingling, weakness, or pain. The pain often comes in a sharp, burning sensation and can intensify with sudden movement. Sneezes, coughs, and certain body repositioning can all enhance the pain.
It is possible to not be able to feel a herniated disc at all. Sometimes, they aren’t found until a doctor identifies them on a spinal image.
Herniated discs often result from a sudden and traumatic force or impact. Car wrecks, slips and falls, a blow to the back, and construction accidents are all common causes.
Herniated discs can also result from additive trauma over a certain period of time. This might be from continuously lifting heavy objects or a recurring twisting movement of any kind. It can also stem from normal aging and wear and tear and indicate an early stage of degeneration.
Bulging, slipped, or ruptured disc
You may also hear a herniated disc referred to as a bulging, slipped, or ruptured disc. All refer to a displaced fragment of part of the spine. These fragments, or discs, act as shock absorbers for the bones of the spine. The displacement of these discs can cause pressing on the spinal nerves, which can produce a severe amount of pain and damage.
Lower back and neck injury
The area in which you feel pain isn’t exactly where the herniation occurs. Because the spine has connections to all parts of the body, you can feel the effect of an injury elsewhere.
For example, if the herniated disc developed in your lower back, you might feel it most in the thigh, buttocks, foot, and calf areas. If the disc ruptures in your neck, your shoulder and arm might be the most affected areas.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay For Back Injury?
Technically speaking, back injuries are different from herniated discs. A herniated disc might qualify as a type of back injury, but pertains more to the lumbar and cervical spine. Regardless, every injury is different and every workers’ comp settlement reflects that.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, back injuries make up about 20% of all workplace injuries in the United States. Even with these stats, most employees aren’t familiar with what all workers’ comp covers.
The benefits that workers’ comp settlements cover for eligible employees include the following:
- Lost wages
- Disability benefits (permanent and temporary)
- Medical bills and expenses
- Cost of ongoing care
In the case that an employee dies from a work-related accident, employers are also required to cover funeral costs and provide death benefits to the family of the deceased.
The average lump sum settlement for back injuries falls around $15,000, but can vary based on each individual case. The injured party might receive more if they choose a structured settlement as opposed to a lump sum. It is not uncommon for structured settlements to provide the claimant with more money in the long run.
How Much Of A Settlement To Expect For A Herniated Disc
As mentioned before, no two cases are alike in any workers’ compensation claim. This is especially true for a workers’ comp settlement for herniated disc. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does estimate what the average herniated disc settlement might look like. According to OSHA, you can expect somewhere between $40,000 to $80,000 in workers’ comp settlement for herniated disc in the state of California. There are many cases where this number can reach far more, though.
Like most all workers’ compensation cases, the settlement amount depends on a few key factors. These include:
- The pain and severity of the injury
- Unreimbursed medical expenses
- Need for additional treatment and costs
- Whether the injured person had any pre-existing injuries or conditions
- The impairment or disability that results from the injury
- Whether the injury brings permanent impairment
- The ability of your attorney to negotiate
Herniated Disc Disability Rating
When an employee injures their back or spine on the job, evaluating physicians will rate the disability based on its impairment. The physician will likely use one of two methods to determine a rating. These are the diagnosis-related estimate and the range of motion methods.
The diagnosis-related estimate, or DRE, is the main method used to evaluate injuries. Under the DRE, there are 5 categories that describe the extent of the injury. Category 1 describes the least significant injury, with increasing significance as the number reaches 5.
A category 1 rating may include:
- No severe pain or major complaints
- Lack of muscle spasms or guarding
- No neurological impairment or loss
- Spine structural integrity remains intact.
This category generally carries a rating of 0% whole person impairment. Whereas a category 5 DRE carries a 25%-30% rating and may include the following:
- Severe muscle spasms and/or guarding
- Verified radiculopathy (injury to a nerve root)
- Identified herniated disc
- Spinal fracture
- Extreme impairment to spinal region and structural integrity
With the information provided, a herniated disc often has a disability rating on the more severe scale. It may fall under category 5 with anywhere between 25% to 30% of a whole person impairment rating.
Call California Workers’ Comp Attorney Jones Legal, Inc.
If you received a herniated disc while on the job, you have the right to a fair amount of workers’ compensation benefits. Let the experienced California attorneys at Jones Legal make sure you get what you’re entitled to. Our attorneys will speak with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you are getting the highest amount for your injury. Contact our offices in Riverside today to make sure your case is in the right hands. Call 951-742-7213 for a free consultation or visit our website to fill out our online intake form.